Dear Danielle…A Letter to My Daughter

“Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)

Dear Danielle,

I’ve put this off as long as I could. In November 1985, I met you face to face for the first time and you completely stole my heart. I told you on the day you were born that I would not even allow you to DATE a boy until you were 30 years old — and in just a few days, you are actually going to get MARRIED!

I don’t even know where to begin. From the first time I saw you, I knew I had the poster child for strong-willed children. From day one you have always told me exactly what you thought regardless of whether I wanted to hear it or not. I am so thankful to God for that relationship with you. Today, it’s my turn to tell you a few things.

I ALWAYS wanted a little girl. From the minute your momma told me she was pregnant, I declared that you were a girl. It’s not that I didn’t want a son, I had just always wanted to have a little girl who would grow up to be a true Daddy’s Girl. I got just that. You know the stories. You and I went everywhere together. Your momma was working shift work after you were born and often I would go to seminary and come home, kiss your momma as she walked out the door for her 3-11 shift and it was just you and me for the rest of the night.

Before you were six months old I had you listening to Woody Durham as he called Carolina basketball games and we cheered on the Tar Heels. We watched Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and ALF. I have preached on several occasions while holding you on my hip. You grew up the first few years believing that when people came to church, they were actually coming to see YOU!

I vividly remember the day I took you to school for the first time. You walked right in, met your teacher and you were happy as a lark. I on the other hand, sat on the steps of the school and cried because you were growing up way too fast. And time has only sped up since that day. I still see you standing on a piano stool and announcing to me and your momma that you were Miss America!

Dustin has grown up confused because he believed he had two mommas. When Dustin came along, you acted like he belonged to you. He didn’t talk until he was 3 years old because he didn’t need to! You would say, “Dustin wants such and such.” I would say, “How do you know that Danielle?” “He told me,” you would say. I’d look at Dustin and he just looked at me like “I don’t understand it either — but it works!”

Early on I think you wanted to say “My Daddy,” but you had a little trouble and it came out “Moddy.” For years that’s what you called me. When you got in the 2nd or 3rd grade, you thought it was a little embarrassing to call me that, so you called me “Diddy.” But to this day, if you get scared or nervous, I hear you slip up and call for “Moddy.” That always warms my heart.

We’ve walked through some wonderful times and some that were not so wonderful but through it all, I have done my very best to assure you that, in me, you always have an ally. From softball to volleyball and chorus, I have always tried to be there to cheer you on.

Now…on Saturday they are going to ask me “Who gives this woman to be married to this man” and I’m supposed to say “Her mother and I.” I’m having a really hard time with that. Don’t be surprised if I say “Her mother” and then under my breath I barely say “and I.” I know that is God’s plan and I know I have done exactly what He expected me to do in raising you to be a Godly woman and wife, but every time I think about having to say those words, a lump comes in my throat and my eyes sweat and my heart hurts.

In my mind, I have apologized a thousand times the last few weeks to Granddaddy Galloway for taking your momma away from him. I didn’t realize that having your daughter grow up and get married was so hard. I watched Popple as he had to give Brenda away he told me how hard it was — I didn’t fully understand that until now.

Everybody keeps telling me that I’m not losing a daughter, I’m gaining a son. I’m happy for you and Nate and I love Nate. Since he’s going to be my son, do you think he might be satisfied just to be your brother rather than your husband? I could live with that. In reality, I guess that’s not an option for us, is it?

There is not a father in the world who could be more proud of their daughter than I am of you. God truly smiled down on me and your momma when He sent you to us. Nate is the luckiest man in the world — and I promise you I will never let him forget that! Being married is going to be wonderful for you and Nate. I wouldn’t trade one minute of my life with your momma for anything in the world. I pray that we have modeled for you and Nate what it means to have a happy and healthy marriage. I promise we will always be here for both of you to help you as your grow in your love for one another and for God.

I’m wrapping up everything here in East Tennessee and I’ll get in the car tomorrow morning and head over the mountains to begin the celebration. I’m going to laugh and joke and do all the things I’m supposed to do. I’m even going to try not to cry at the ceremony — but I ain’t making no promises! Deep down in my heart, I’m going to struggle. I’m turning over the care for the most precious person in my life to another man. I pray he will always love you as Christ loves the church. I pray he will take care of you the way you deserve. And…I pray that one day…he has a daughter…just like you…and he gets to feel the joy and pride that I feel when I look at you. And when it comes time for her to get married, I pray I’m still around to look him in the eye and say, “Nate…I’ve been praying for this day. Now you truly understand what it means to be a father of a little girl.”

Congratulations Prissy. I love you more than a fat kid loves cake. Other than your momma — you are the number one woman in my life and you always will be. I’ll always be just a phone call away, but now I’ll step to the side and make way for a new man to travel with you. It’s going to be a wonderful journey for the both of you. I’m proud of you. I love you. I’ll ALWAYS be here for you whenever you need me.

Love always,

Moddy

How Well Do You Hear?

“Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:22)

Eight-year-old Brian went with his grandfather to have the car inspected. Granddaddy had trouble hearing the attendant so he asked the inspector to repeat his questions several times. As they drove him, Granddaddy said, “Well, Brian, we pass the inspection.” Brian responded, “Yep, we pass everything but the hearing test.”

Jesus said imperatively, if you have ears to hear, use them. Hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the church. Jesus declared that we are spiritual receiving stations. We have the capacity to receive communication from God IF we will pay attention, listen, and concentrate on what God is trying to communicate.

Our capacity to receive is determined by our listening. If a student enrolls in a class and for some reasons quits paying attention as the teacher speaks, the time will come when the student will not be able to comprehend what the teacher is saying.

We all know that some people hear better than others. Some creatures can hear much better than a human being while others hear less. For example…

An alligator can hear only 1/5 as well as man.
A minnow can hear only 1/4 as well as man.
A frog can hear only 1/2 as well as man.

However…

A dog can hear more than twice as well as man.
A cat can hear 2 1/2 times as well as humans.
Bats can hear 5 times as well as humans.

“So what are you saying Pastor?”

Instead of listening like an alligator — listen like a bat!

In Isaiah 55:3, God encouraged the people to hear. He said, “Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the promises assured to David.”

To HEAR but refuse to LISTEN is to deaden your own eardrums and bring about insensitivity to the voice of God. Most of us at some time in life will reach over and hit the snooze button on our alarm clock and go back to sleep. If we did this morning after morning, the time would come when we completely asleep could reach over and turn off the alarm and not even be aware that we turned it off.

This also happens in our spiritual lives.  A lost person comes to church and hears the call of God over and over and reaches out and turns the alarm off. The time will come when this person can hear God speaking but will turn off His voice without realizing that he or she has done it. They’ve lost the ability to hear.

Think about your own life right now. Are you deaf because of sin? It is dangerous to make a practice os sin, because it will deceive you. To know that there is something in our life that is contrary to God’s will and do nothing about it will dull our hearing.

Some people are deaf because of preoccupation. We don’t take time to be alone with God and let Him speak to us. How long has it been since you have gotten away from everything to the extent that you could hear nothing except the voice of God?

As I think about my own ability to hear, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that before I ask God to speak to my heart…I should be absolutely sure I am willing to obey whatever He says to me.

How well do you hear? God desires to speak to us and He is trying to break through and communicate with us. Today…let those who have ears — LISTEN!

Have a great day.

Take a Step BACK…

“He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.'” (Mark 6:31)

Over the last few weeks, like so many of you — I’ve been discouraged by the events happening in our country. I log on to my Facebook account and immediately am confronted with shark attacks, church burnings, racism, flag fights and gay rights. And like my daddy used to say, “Opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one — some are just uglier and bigger than others.” I would add that since the invention of social media — everybody is more than willing to stick that nose in everybody else’s business.

Families are literally divided over some of the issues we are facing today. After 32 years of pastoral ministry, I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. If you aren’t blaming President Obama for all the ills of the world, you are standing on a corner screaming “TURN OR BURN” because you think the end of the world is happening in a few minutes.

You know what I need? I think I just need to take a step back. Throughout all the hoopla of last week, I tweeted that we should all just take a deep breath. God is still sovereign and He is still in control. He is not surprised by anything that’s going on in the world today. And I still only have ONE JOB — carry the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.

I came across this verse in Mark’s Gospel today and it literally hit me between the eyes. Jesus not only taught us by His word, but by His actions as well. The same Jesus who said, “We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day” (Jn. 9:4) also says “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

I believe that as Christians, our theology and our activism will ALWAYS run counter-culture. If the church embraces the ways of the world, it is clear evidence to me that we have abandoned the principles of Scripture to be separate and different from the world. The early church in Acts made such headway in their culture because they were so different from that culture.

So, as we continue to seek to share the message of salvation with the world, let me suggest a couple of reasons  why Jesus may have told us to occasionally take a step back.

1. We need to determine our priorities.
Sin is rampant in the world — always has been and always will be. We are not sinners because we sin — we sin because we are sinners. If we try and legislate behavior to get rid of every form of sin — we will be constantly defeated and discouraged. Just think about your own life — do you always do what you know you are supposed to do? Of course not. You and I cannot overcome sin with legislation and sermons and demands for Christian behavior. Sin is overcome only by the power of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

So, take a step back and determine your priorities. Are you more interested in arguing about flags, guns and gays or are you focused on the ONE JOB you were given? When our priorities get out of kilter, the devil uses other issues to cause us to abandon our primary responsibility. Instead of telling people how evil THEY are — why are we not telling them how GREAT our GOD is?

When Noah built the ark, he was ridiculed by people who saw what he was doing. And yet for 120 years, he just remained focused on his job — build the ark and tell people that God’s judgment was sure apart from repentance.

2. We need greater communion with our Father.
In Mark 1:35, the Bible teaches us that “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He (Jesus) got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.”

If we are going to have an impact on the world as God intends, we must spend more time with HIM in order to get our marching orders. If you haven’t figured it out yet — there will be a new issue every week. And if you chase every rabbit, you will lose sight of the One who guides you and governs you and guards you. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace.” When you get sidetracked by the issue — your mind is anything but peaceful.

I’ve seen so many Christians who over the last few weeks have been walking around looking for fire and brimstone to start falling from the sky any minute. And they actually seem disappointed that it hasn’t!

Take a step back and listen to our Father! His plans have not changed. He will judge sin in His time. You and I were not put on that committee. Make sure we don’t ENDORSE sin and we don’t come across that we TOLERATE sin — but one of the problems the world has with us right now is that we have failed in dealing with ALL sexual sin (premarital sex, extramarital sex, etc) and have just jumped on homosexual sex. We are very inconsistent in our preaching against SIN.

Get back the the job we’ve been given. We are ALL sinners. We ALL deserve death and hell. Jesus is the ONLY answer to your problems — whatever they are. Faith AND repentance are necessary to experience the fullness of life promised by Christ.

“Pastor Keith, I never thought I would see the day when YOU would go soft on sin.”

If that’s what you think I’ve done — you don’t know me and you haven’t read your Bible. Sin is sin and ALL sin is an abomination to our Holy God. I haven’t changed my mind on that at all. I just want to remind all of us that LOST PEOPLE are NOT our enemies! The devil is my enemy. I’m engaged in a spiritual battle for the souls of men, women, boys and girls.

So…my suggestion is that you and I take a step BACK today. Get off Facebook and stop reading all those conspiracy theory stories that don’t do anything but make your blood pressure go up. Determine your priorities (SHARE THE GOSPEL) and spend some time seeking greater communion with God. He will refresh your spirit and help you get back to winning souls for the Kingdom.

You don’t need to save God — HE NEEDS TO SAVE US!

Have a good day.